May 28, 2017

POLLitically Incorrect – 12/6/16

Image credit: James Crispiap

Another week, another set of craptastic rankings. The biggest thing we learned from last week is that anything below 15 is basically a crap shoot every week. Why did they arbitrarily decide to stop the rankings at 25? Football ranks 25 teams and there’s only 128. There’s 351 in basketball, why not rank the top-50? The answer is because the media is lazy. They can’t properly rank 25, and should never, EVER, be trusted to rank anything above and beyond that.

Would be an interesting exercise though. Could you imagine some first year writer from a local paper in Arizona having to decide whether TCU or USC is the best 8-0 team that isn’t top-25 material?

#1 Villanova Wildcats – The defending national champions are undefeated and their best win is at Purdue. That’s nothing to sneeze at. The team directly behind them is also undefeated with a win at Kentucky. If you can’t get it right at the top, you can’t get it right anywhere. This should be a fun week.

#2 UCLA Bruins – Should the Bruins be higher than Villanova? Probably. Should they be #2? Probably, if the right team was number one. Look, UCLA is good and they may be the best team come season’s end, but rankings at this point should be based on what you’ve done so far. Based on non-conference SOS, UCLA has the third strongest among the undefeateds, behind Baylor and Creighton. UCLA has a better win than either of those two, but their body of work to this point isn’t as impressive.

#3 Kansas Jayhawks – The Jayhawks moved up due to North Carolina’s loss at Indiana. The Jayhawks beat Long Beach State and Stanford at home last week. Is that more impressive than a single digit loss at Assembly Hall? Not really, but what is impressive is this Frank Mason layup.

#4 Baylor Bears – Well if it isn’t the team with the best quarter pole resume in college basketball. I understand that jumping from #9 to #1 should  be next to impossible, but there is no better ranking resume out there at this point. Undefeated with wins over Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier. This should be the #1 team in college basketball right now. Hands down.

#5 Duke Blue Devils – If you’d like to avoid the upcoming 5-month Blue Devil love-fest, you may want to start avoiding ESPN now. Duke is finally getting healthy, and this may be as low as we see them ranked for the next five months. Does that mean they should be 5th now? Probably not. Their best wins are Michigan State and Rhode Island. At least Baylor jumped them, that makes me happy.

#6 Kentucky Wildcats – Remember when John Calipari said he wanted a close game? Well he got all of that and more when UCLA came into Rupp Arena and beat the ‘Cats 97-92 on Saturday. Kentucky’s best win is still Michigan State, and that’s now the 3rd team already that we’ve said that about. Maybe Michigan State is really bad and we should stop using them as a measuring stick. If you don’t count them, Kentucky’s best win is Arizona State (88th in Kenpom). Maybe 6 is still too high until we see them play some stiffer competition.

#7 North Carolina Tar Heels – Wow, sliding from #3 to #7 after losing on the road to #9? That’s tough. Especially when you have three better wins than the team above you does. There’s no way UNC should be below Kentucky. Absolutely none.

#8 Gonzaga Bulldogs – Undefeated with wins over #20 Arizona, #21 Florida, and #25 Iowa State. Still sounds better than Kentucky, no? Better than what Duke has shown thus far? I mean, come…on. Are we ranking teams on potential here or by what’s actually happened because Gonzaga should be up with Baylor if we’re basing the rankings on what they’ve accomplished thus far this season.

#9 Indiana Hoosiers – If it weren’t for that inexplicable loss to Fort Wayne, the Hoosiers would have the best case for #1 with wins over Kansas and North Carolina, but the reality is they have the worst loss of anyone to this point. #9 probably seems about right if the teams around them were ranked more appropriately. For example, they should also be behind the team directly behind them.

#10 Creighton Blue Jays – I’m not ready to live in a world where a Greg McDermott coached team is in the top-10, but here we are. And the Blue Jays deserve it. Creighton has four power five conference wins including Wisconsin and NC State, but they’ve yet to play in, let alone win, a true road game. So while I don’t think they’re on the same level as a Gonzaga or Baylor, they also don’t have a loss to Fort Wayne, or a loss at all.

#11 Louisville Cardinals – Sure, I can get behind Louisville at #11. If they didn’t blow a 22-point lead to Baylor they’d be undefeated with five top-100 wins already. The ‘Ville won at Grand Canyon this week which Pitino said was a better environment than Duke or Kentucky. Seriously.

#12 St. Mary’s Gaels – Unless BYU ever creeps into the rankings (not likely), St. Mary’s will only play a ranked opponent twice this season – both games against Gonzaga. They could finish 28-1 with one ranked win. What do you do with that team? Each year there’s always one team that does this. Wins at Dayton and Stanford aren’t really going to cut it. Play somebody decent outside your conference, please.

#13 Xavier Muskateers – So Xavier (ranked 7th last week) loses at Baylor and drops to #13? Seems awfully harsh, no? Perhaps it’s a little market correction for their otherwise mediocre schedule to this point. I argued last week that the X was overrated, and I have no qualms with where they are now. Just hard to see a loss on the road against a top-5 team cost them six spots.

#14 Virginia Cavaliers – I don’t understand how there’s two teams between Louisville and Virginia when their resumes are nearly identical. The difference is that Louisville lost on a neutral floor to Baylor while Virginia lost at home to West Virginia. For my money I’d rank the last four teams in the following order: Xavier, Louisville, Virginia and St. Mary’s. Also, someone explain to me how the Mountaineers are one spot behind Virginia after they went to Virginia and won?

#15 West Virginia Mountaineers – Winning at Virginia was enough for the Mountaineers to jump ten spots in the polls. That’s fine, but how are they behind Virginia? They have the same number of top-100 wins and their best win (at UVA) is better than the Hoos’ (vs. Ohio State). It’s this type of nonsensical shit that makes people hate the AP Poll.

#16 Butler Bulldogs – Undefeated with four, top-100 wins. Butler will be tested when Cincinnati comes to town this weekend, but in the meantime, how in the world are they six spots behind Creighton? Almost identical resumes, and Butler’s win at Utah is actually the best win of either team.

#17 Wisconsin Badgers – Wisconsin remains steady at #17 as the highest ranked two-loss team after home wins against Syracuse and Oklahoma. I actually have no problem with Wisconsin’s ranking considering they also have four, top-100 wins. Wait, did I just agree with the AP Poll on something?

#18 Purdue Boilermakers – Gary Parrish wrote in his Poll Attacks column, why leaving Pudue off of AP ballots was nonsensical. I tend to agree, but I also think 18th is too high. You see, should you be left off for two, single-digit losses to top #11 teams? Probably not, but you shouldn’t be rewarded either. The rest of Purdue’s resume is trash. Not a single top-100 win to be found. For example, Iowa State only has one top-100 win and two, single-digit losses (2 points, and one point in OT) to ranked teams, and here the Boilermakers are, six spots higher.

#19 South Carolina Gamecocks – The Gamecocks are undefeated and have wins over Michigan and Syracuse. They also got taken to OT at home by Monmouth. I’m fine with everything about the Gamecocks being ranked right where they are. They have some good wins, and no losses. The odd part? They don’t even play this week.

#20 Arizona Wildcats – Boy are the Wildcats reeling. Arizona is down to just seven scholarship players after Parker Jackson-Cartwright’s ankle sprain last week. Outside of the Michigan State win, the Wildcats have lost their only two other top-100 matchups and figure to not really be tested until a December 17th matchup with Texas A&M. At this point, I figure pollsters are falling to the same trap they are with Iowa State. The Cats have the second longest streak of consecutive week’s ranked, so at this point it’s just “throw them in and see where they fall”.

#21 Florida Gators – Four top-100 wins and a five point loss to Gonzaga. Someone tell me why Florida isn’t higher? They’ve done more than Arizona, Xavier, Purdue and St. Mary’s. Florida wasn’t ranked to start the season though, so we’re just going to keep them down here when they’re actually better than some other teams because reasons.

#22 Cincinnati Bearcats – The Bearcats are coming off an impressive (albeit ugly) win in Ames, Iowa over the Cyclones. While Cincinnati doesn’t have any other marquee wins, their only loss is a neutral court loss to Rhode Island. 22nd seems about right, Something, something, blind squirrel, nut.

#23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Undefeated with no real solid wins. Northwestern, Colorado, and Iowa aren’t really threatening the rankings, but at least they didn’t lose those games. The Irish have the 6th most efficient offense in the country, which is fine, but let’s see how it holds up when they face the ACC gauntlet. As for #23? Sure.

#24 Oregon Ducks – After a 2-2 start, the Ducks have won five in a row after getting Dillon Brooks back from an injury. Not a single one of those teams was in the top-75 though. So they should win those. The Ducks are holding on to a preseason rankings boost even though there may be some more deserving teams. (TCU, USC, etc)

#25 Iowa State Cyclones – The Cyclones are benefiting from their 61-weeks ranked streak and probably should have fallen out after back to back losses against Gonzaga and Cincinnati, yet here they are with their one top-100 win. The Cyclones may not be tested again until conference play starts, and that should be enough to keep them ranked for that length of time given their recent cache.

Tom Danielson 64 Articles
Managing Editor

Every family needs an adult figure. That's Tom's job on this ship. After graduating from Iowa State University, Tom headed down the ‘failed professional golfer' career path before heading back to his calling as an engineer in the great white north (Minnesota). He got his start in blogging, and continues to contribute at the critically acclaimed site, Wide Right & Natty Lite.  A student of the ‘you can't fail if you don't try' philosophy, there's no better way to describe Tom than a 'Jack of all trades, master of none'.

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